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Mansfield Magazine

The Season of Soil – A North Texas Garden Guide for January and February

Jan 23, 2013 01:57PM ● By Mary Phillips

Onion sets ready for January planting at Forgotten Works Garden Gallery

Dark, damp, cool and reserved: welcome to the season of soil! Now is the time to draw inward and build up some energy for a busy springtime in the garden: plan and prep your beds, work your compost, order seeds, and finish any clean up left behind from the fall.  Don't forget to count your lucky stars that we have some lovely winter days for accomplishing outdoor chores during these months, as well as plenty of cold and rainy days for some good ol' garden dreaming!

Need a handy to-do list for this season? Here is what we have on the calendar at our Bohemian Homestead just outside of Mansfield:

Compost and New Bed Preparation

January 1- infinity: Use this 'down time' to catch up on turning your compost pile, sifting rich finished compost for dispersal and for creating any new beds.   Even though this chore really never ends, it can be much more pleasant when the weather is cool!  Soil has soothing properties (and, at the forefront of integrative medicine, they are seeing that soil has healing potential that can be accessed simply by handling healthy 'dirt'!) that can really ease 'the winter blues'. 

If you haven’t tried composting, this is the time to begin – find a discrete corner and start piling.  I find a 'three bin' system handy – so I can toss and mix piles while digging for 'brown gold' (finished compost) at the bottom.  If you don’t have space for this set up, just start a simple pile for yard waste, kitchen waste, and leaves.  Move the unfinished compost off to the side when you want to claim some finished soil at the bottom.

Landscape Planting

Choose smaller sized trees and shrubs – they adapt and establish faster than larger sizes and ultimately will grow to a larger size sooner.  Holes should be wider than deep with messy edges.  Mix the native soil with just a bit of compost to fill in around your new planting. 

Vegetable Gardening

January 15- Feb 20: onion sets can go in – no need to cover

January 25 – March 1: potatoes – plant a few every 2 weeks during this time so your harvest doesn't come all at once (unless you plan to can)

February 10 – March 1: Seeds may be planted for the following:


Spinach (cover during heavy freeze)


Beets (cover during heavy freeze)


Lettuce (cover during heavy freeze)

Snap peas/snow peas


Chard (cover during heavy freeze)

Kale (cover during heavy freeze)

Collards (cover during heavy freeze)

February 10 – March 1: Transplants may be set out for the following:

Asparagus crowns

Broccoli transplants (cover during heavy freeze)

Cabbage transplants (cover during heavy freeze)

Cauliflower transplants (cover during heavy freeze)


February is an excellent time to prune ornamental shrubs, trees and bush style roses (wait until climbing roses bloom before pruning).  Be sure to use sharp, clean pruners and saws, and leave approximately ¼ inch 'stub' where you cut. 

Enjoy your "soil season" and be sure to energize yourself both mind, body and soul for the upcoming busy days in your garden! 

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